Join Us! War Widows’ Stories Launch Event

It was almost a year ago that we launched War Widows’ Stories live on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour with the aim to start recording and raising awareness of war widows’ lives and experiences in Britain. With the help of the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Liverpool John Moores University, since then we have trained six volunteer interviewers, and conducted fifteen oral history interviews with war widows and their children. Their stories are full of persistence, strength, despair, and grief, as well as fond memories of love and laughter. No two stories are the same, and yet there are unmistakable parallels between them.

In Remembrance Week 2017, we will publish these first fifteen life stories on our website in the form of audio files and/ or transcripts. To mark this special occasion, we warmly invite you to join us in recognising and celebrating the lives of Britain’s war widows past and present, to listen to their stories, and learn about their experiences on Friday, 10 November 2017 from 6-8PM at the Royal British Legion in London.

Places at this event are free but limited, so please click here to find out more and book your seat to avoid disappointment. We are grateful to the Royal British Legion for providing us with the space for this event, which will be fully accessible.

We hope you consider joining us! If you have any questions about the event, or if you would like to know more about the project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at info@warwidowsstories.org.uk.

War Widows’ Stories Volunteers Complete Oral History Interview Training

On 25 January 2017, we organised a training day for our War Widows’ Stories volunteer interviewers at London’s YHA St Pauls. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and to the Oral History Society, our interviewers had the chance to learn about oral history and its roots, as well as becoming familiar with how to conduct good oral history interviews.

Our oral history trainer, Sarah Lowry, was recommended to us by the Oral History Society, and we couldn’t have asked for anyone more knowledgable and in tune with our project. Sarah has a lot of experience in carrying out interviews that rely on people sharing painful memories, and one of the key points of our training day was to think through the ethical and emotional dimensions of our project and to understand what they mean for our interviewers and interviewees.

The reason it’s important that war widows and their relatives are trained as oral history interviewers for the project is simple: we want War Widows’ Stories to last. Giving volunteers the skills and equipment needed to continue recording war widows’ stories means the project is much more likely to have a lifespan that surpasses any academic involvement or external funding and is a way to make sure it serves the needs of those most affected by it.

Now that our volunteer interviewers are trained, the work can begin! Over the next couple of weeks, we will begin matching interviewers with interviewees, arranging interview dates and locations, and continue recruiting volunteers who would like to tell their stories.

If you’re considering becoming a volunteer for War Widows’ Stories or would simply like to know more about what this involves, do get in touch with us via the “Talk to Us” section of the website. We’d love to hear from you!

War Widows’ Association Annual Service of Remembrance

Today, on 12 November 2016 at 12.30PM, members of the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA), their families, friends, supporters, and guests will gather for the War Widows’ Association’s Annual Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. We will meet in King Charles Street at noon to walk the short distance to the Cenotaph, where the WWA’s Padre Rev. John Harrison will conduct the service, accompanied by music from the Southern Highlanders Pipe & Drums, and the RAF Halton Volunteer Band.

When the Nation comes together on Remembrance Sunday, it will be to remember all those who have suffered or died in war, but it is essential that those left behind are not overlooked. We have a duty to ensure that Britain’s forgotten women and men, war widows and  widowers, are remembered.

The War Widows’ Association’s Chair, Mrs Irene Wills BEM, remarked: “most Remembrance customs originate from the First World War, and yet it is so hard to believe that it took around 80 years for war widows to be allowed to take part in the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. The ladies that formed the Association had a long struggle to ensure war widows and widowers have rightful recognition; it is through their efforts that the Association’s remembrance service has become an established part of the nation’s remembrance calendar.”

Mrs Wills also explained, “our Service is a very important and emotional day for our members. Remaining true to our foundation as a campaigning organisation, the Association has moved forward and can now be summed up in three words: campaigning, caring, remembering. Our service is very much about remembering, and while we remember all who made the ultimate sacrifice, each member here today has very personal memories; there are so many stories to be told. For example the member who never got to celebrate her first wedding anniversary; the member who has to explain to their children why they will never know their father. It is so easy to focus on current conflicts and forget the many that have gone before. Each story is different, and yet we are each united by a common bond.”

WWA members will also attend the National Service of Remembrance on Sunday, 13 November.

War Widows’ Stories Launches Live on Woman’s Hour

Today, on Armistice Day, Mary Moreland (WWA Chair Elect) and Dr Nadine Muller officially launched War Widows’ Stories by appearing live on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Talking to Jenni Murray at the BBC’s Old Broadcasting House in London, Mary and Nadine shared the motivation behind the project and explained why War Widows’ Stories is such an important venture. If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen back on BBC iPlayer here.

War Widows’ Stories Wins Award from Heritage Lottery Fund!

We are thrilled to announce that War Widows’ Stories has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant. Commenting on the award, Dr Nadine Muller – the project leader – said: “War widowhood is an inevitable and undeniable, yet largely forgotten, part of war. War Widows’ Stories wants to help afford these women their rightful place in history by making their stories heard”.

Mrs Mary Moreland, Chair Elect and Public Relations Officer of the WWA, said a project like this is long overdue, and the Association is excited to work with Dr Muller: “Part of our work on improving the lives of war widows and their families is to raise awareness of their circumstances. Our members have so many different, untold stories to share of their experiences as war widows, and we are thrilled they will finally have the chance to tell them”.

Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “At Remembrance-tide, so many stories are told to ensure we do not forget those who lost their lives in the conflicts of the twentieth century and today. Now, this new project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will mean that the LJMU and WWA can do more to shine a light on the lives and stories of those war widows left behind and honour their place in history”.

If you would like to access the full press release, please click here.

Press Release

Below you can find the press release for our project and its funding. If you’d like to have a custom article, conduct and interview with us about the project, or require images or other information, please contact us here

War Widows’ Stories Project Celebrates Award from Heritage Lottery Fund

What is it like to be a war widow in Britain? Every year we celebrate and commemorate the lives and sacrifices of those who have fought and fallen in service for our country. Still, we know little about the experiences of the wives and families they leave behind.

This is why Dr Nadine Muller, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and author of The Widow: A Literary & Cultural History (2017), is working with the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA), an organisation that has been fighting to improve the conditions of war widows and their dependants since 1971.

Together, they want to raise awareness of the everyday lives of war widows, past and present. The project – called War Widows’ Stories – will give war widows and their close relatives the opportunity to tell their stories, be trained as interviewers to record the memories of others, and to learn about how war widows’ lives have changed over the centuries.

The interviews will be available in print and on the War Widows’ Stories website (http://www.warwidowsstories.org.uk) alongside a wealth of material that brings to life the history of war widowhood in Britain.

The project has now been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant of £9,800. Commenting on the award, Dr Muller said: “War widowhood is an inevitable and undeniable, yet largely ignored, part of war. We want the War Widows’ Stories project to help afford these women their rightful place in history by making their stories heard”.

Mrs Mary Moreland, Chair Elect and Public Relations Officer of the WWA, said a project like this was long overdue, and the Association is excited to work with Dr Muller: “Part of our mission to improve the lives of war widows and their families is raising awareness of their circumstances and of what life is like as a war widow. Our members have so many different stories to tell – we are thrilled they will finally have the chance to share them”.

Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “At Remembrance-tide, so many stories are told to ensure we do not forget those who lost their lives in the conflicts of the twentieth century and today. Now, this new project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will mean that the LJMU and WWA can do more to shine a light on the lives and stories of those war widows left behind and honour their place in history”.